Sunday, August 1, 2010

The V Word

Gabriella Herkert

Catnapped and Doggone

It was a dark and stormy night, or as we like to call it in Seattle, ten minutes before high noon in January. My heart palpitates and a layer of cold sweat is providing a permafrost layer between my skin and the forty mile an hour wind. I’m parked in a neighborhood downtown where getting towed would mean I might eventually get my car back – good news. And I’m thinking that a prescription for the anti-nausea medication composine would come too late.

It’s my own fault. Me and the stupid annual list. Some people have a bucket list. You know the idea – 100 things to do before you die. Well, it wouldn’t work for me because of my genetic links to the immortal troll people. I knew five great grand-parents. Not met, knew. And even those who do eventually die kick off for things like congenital brain aneurisms in their nineties. My list spans a mere twelve months and contains the crazy, illogical, insane and even ridiculous things I am going to try to expand my horizons before my calendar runs out. It has included sky diving, dying my hair black (think thirty-five year old Goth) and circus school. On this dark and stormy Seattle night, my biggest fear is at the top of the hit parade. Audition.

I can articulate in a room for of people. Lawyers. None of us have personality or common sense much less a sense of humor so the eye-glazing of a good tax seminar presentation doesn’t rattle my cage. On the other hand, emoting in public without a podium to hide behind and a reference to a tax code section no one knows by heart manifests like a massive stroke. But I’m going to do it. I’ve memorized the para…my name…oh no…and I am going to find the power to open the door and step into the Showbox.

At first I thought it was psychological hysteria brought on by anoxia since I’d stopped actually breathing but, lo and behold, it was a biker bar. Complete with it’s five o’clock somewhere denizens who eyed me blearily before identifying my gender. Surprisingly, bourbon is not botox and eyebrows really can reach into receding hairlines. I’d worn a silk blouse, dress pants and girl shoes in an effort to appear confident and professional. It was not the uniform of the day.
“Help you?” the bartender asked as the patrons leered.

Honestly, did he think I’d wandered in search of a bathroom and elected to stay?
“I’m looking for the try-outs.”

“I’ll try you out,” a generous, and wasted, gentleman near the end of the bar offered.

“For, um, you know, the play. THE PLAY.” I couldn’t. Not under any circumstances in this environment utter the title.

The bartender pointed to a door behind me with a hand-lettered index card in faded pencil that said ‘Auditions.’

I escape. The room next door is empty. I glance at my watch and realize the two hours and fifty minutes I’d used talking myself into getting out of my car and through that first door might actually go to waste and I’d be back at the bar buying shots for my new best friends with the heinous list entry still uncrossed.

“You here to try out?” A woman asks, coming with a clipboard. “You almost missed us. We’re just finishing up.”

“Terrific,” I mutter.

She takes me straight onto the stage where an interrogation spotlight and a stand microphone are already set up. I raise my arm to try to see into the shadows, hearing breathing and quiet talking but totally blind.

“Whenever you’re ready,” a disembodied voice says.

I started my prepared piece which had miraculously returned to me in the searing of retinas. I’d chosen it deliberately. It was deep, metaphorical, meaningful without…

“Not that one,” said the shadow. “You need something else. Something, I don’t know, lighter. Punchier.”

The woman who had brought me onto the stage handed me a card.

“I haven’t memorized this,” I said, panic – negative emotive panic – echoing around the hall.

“Just read it. We’ll know.”

So I read it. Out loud as my mind traveled the card. Without any portent for the actual words before the fell from my lips. I was three lines in, mortified and blubbering, when he stopped the pain.

“Great. That one’s yours. First rehearsal is Tuesday at 6. You’ll need a pink shirt. Think Pepto-Bismal. See you Tuesday.”

I breathed again. It was over. Crossed off the list. Blood returned to my head, sensation to my hands. I strode out and back into the bar, pulling up short as my brain kicked in.

“You get one of them vaginas?” Bourbon Biker asked.

“They’re monologues. The Vagina Monologues,” the bartender offered.

“Um, er, yeah. I guess.”

“Hope you got a good one.”

Having no answer to that and not enough cash to join them to the point of falling off the stool, I fled back into that dark and stormy Seattle night.

Thanks for reading.



Mary@GigglesandGuns said...


Hope all goes well.

Gabi said...


Thanks. It was a couple of years ago. I did wear Pepto-Bismal pink and got through the less than delicate recital without the actual Pepto-Bismal I'd brought to the theater. But that old saying, be careful what you wish (or add to your annual try me list) is an adage because it holds more than a kernal of truth.

Michael Wiley said...

Glad you got the part and glad that you made it out alive, Gabi.

Joshua Corin said...

"You get one of them vaginas?" = Nominee for Best Line Ever

Gabi said...

Thanks, Josh, but in the moment, I had a moment. I'm over it now.